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--Where We've Been, Where We're At, & Where We're Going!

       (Compiled from Dad & Mama's pubbed & unpubbed Letters, & written by Apollos.)

For Adults, EAs, Senior & Junior Teens Only!

       [EDITED: "HomeARC note (11/98): The Charter and subsequent GNs state the current specific guidelines for living the Law of Love."]

       1. (Introduction: Over the past few months, Dad & Mama have received several reports & requests from various leaders & Shepherds around the World, asking if something could be written up primarily for the benefit of our Teens, EAs & new disciples regarding some of our past & present sexual policies. Because many of our previous sexual liberties have been curbed, & the reasons for these changes have not been fully understood by everyone, it's been easy for some folks to draw the wrong conclusions about why these changes have occurred.
       2. (Since we no longer practice all of the freedoms today that we did during the period immediately following the RNR, some have wondered if perhaps there was something wrong with our past liberties. Some have even wondered if we still really believe all the things that Dad has written about the freedoms granted us through God's Law of Love.
       3. (Others have felt that perhaps their current leadership just might be too conservative or even prudish, & that surely we should be as free now as we ever were. After all, if "God's Only Law Is Love," then why is it necessary to be so closely shepherded & counselled with whenever those who are of legal age desire to "get it together" for a "quickie"?!--Or even with those who want to try out a "Make It Work" betrothal or marriage situation, is all of this concern & counsel from the Shepherds really necessary?--Not to mention the 6-month trial periods?!--Which to some are real trials indeed!
       4. (In response to questions such as these, the Lord gave Dad & Mama the answers & explanations, transcripts of which were used as the basis of this GN. We're sure that this counsel, as well as the review of events from our own history, & the many quotes from former Letters contained herein, will be a great help to you & your Teens & EAs in resolving questions such as those previously mentioned. GBY! WLY!)

       5. QUESTION: From what I've read in the Letters & past {\ul \i FSMs} or {\ul \i FNs}, it seems like the Family used to be a lot freer sexually than we are today. For example, if two adults wanted to share with each other, it looks like they were free to do so. But now, if two people feel attracted to each other & want to "get it together," they're supposed to first counsel with their Shepherds & get permission, etc.--which is not always granted! So why are things so much more restricted along those lines today?
       6. ANSWER: The main reason we don't have as many freedoms along those lines today as we once had is because many of us misused them, so the Lord greatly restricted our usage of them.
       7. The Lord gave us those freedoms so we could sacrificially & unselfishly help others. But many of us simply weren't mature enough to handle them wisely & responsibly, thus we wound up using--or misusing--them selfishly & getting way off the track. So for our own well-being & for His Work's sake, the Lord restricted or severely limited many of those freedoms.
       8. Also, when we used those liberties with the wrong motives, a lot of us found ourselves caught up in a maelstrom (violent confusion) of romantic & sexual feelings, emotions & relationships that were very overpowering & could virtually control us because we let them occupy so much of our minds & hearts & time. This, of course, resulted in quite a few serious problems, causing our work & fruitfulness for the Lord to suffer greatly. This is a major reason why we now have different restrictions & safeguards in place today, to "make it easy for us to be good," & to help us avoid such problems.

       9. QUESTION: If we weren't even going to be able to handle these past freedoms, then why were they given to us in the first place?
       10. ANSWER: God often gives us responsibilities & freedoms to test our dedication & commitment & love for Him & others.
       11. When the Lord entrusts us with new liberties or responsibilities, even when He knows that we're not quite mature or strong enough to handle them, He will use them to test us, to try us, to strengthen & teach us. It shows Him & us & others our strengths & weaknesses. And even when we fail, we learn from the experience. Grandpa has always made it clear that freedoms & liberties are a big responsibility:
       12. "Freedom has its price. Freedom costs something. With freedom you take on the responsibility of making your own decisions & taking the consequences."--ML #985:6.
       13. "Our responsibility & the main purpose for which we were placed here is to make choices, to make decisions in the Lord & under His guidance so that He will see what we will do or what we will choose or decide."--ML #338:10.

       14. QUESTION: But if it resulted in all kinds of problems, then all of that sexual freedom must have been wrong.
       15. ANSWER: There was--& is--absolutely nothing wrong with the freedoms that the Lord gave us!
       16. The Lord showed Grandpa that the Scripture, "All things are lawful unto us" (1Cor.6:12), literally means exactly what it says; that there are no exceptions, all things indeed are lawful for the believers in Jesus who are motivated by love. In a revelation, the Lord showed Grandpa that these "all things" included sexual sharing.
       17. However, from the very start, the Lord made it clear that this freedom was being granted for a specific purpose, to meet a definite need. It was way back in 1970, when one of our members was needed on a road team & his wife needed to stay behind. While concerned & praying about this man, the Lord showed Grandpa that one of the girls who was going on the road team could--& in fact, should--help meet this brother's sexual needs. (See Pro.3:27,28.)
       18. Although it was a rather shocking revelation at the time, the Lord confirmed its truth & validity with many Scriptures such as, "To the pure all things are pure," "All things are lawful unto me," "The fruit of the Spirit is Love ... against such, there is no law," "All that believed were together & had all things common," etc. (For a comprehensive listing of "All Things" Scriptures, see "The All Things Tree," ML #302A.)
       19. The Lord gave us these freedoms first & foremost to sacrificially help others. They were extended to us as a means to help & heal & meet the desperate needs of others. So the problem certainly wasn't with sex, which we know is God-created & God-given. Nor was the problem with the God-given freedom to lovingly & sacrificially share with & meet the sexual needs of others.
       20. The problems resulted because a lot of us abused these freedoms & began looking on them as a means to gratify our own fleshly lusts instead of using them to sacrificially & lovingly help others. Had we looked on these freedoms as a sacrificial means of helping others, "What can I do for you?", instead of "What's in it for me?", then most--if not all--of the problems we encountered could have been avoided.
       21. In one of the first Letters that Grandpa ever wrote on this subject, "The Law of Love" (which by the way, was written years before most of us ever actually experienced or exercised such liberties), he made it clear that there's nothing wrong with such freedoms, but that if we misuse or misapply these freedoms, that would be wrong. The following quotes from this Letter plainly state that such freedoms are very conditional:
       22. "This last generation of the Church will probably have as much trouble in handling such freedom as did its first generation! It's like giving a growing child a little more liberty at each new stage of development, ushering in a new stage of growth & responsibility to see if he can be trusted with it. If he uses it wisely, he'll be given more. If he handles it foolishly & dangerously, it may be taken away from him, as Paul had to do with the Early Church. [EDITED: "Gal.5:13; Mk.4:24,25."]
       23. "It depends on your spiritual strength & maturity, trustworthiness & especially the ultimate in total unselfish & sacrificial love--the true Love of God! Can you be trusted with it, or will you abuse it & use your liberty as license to do wrongfully & lustfully instead of rightfully & lovingly? Will you use it to heal & help, or harm & hinder? The answer is up to you.
       24. "If you are strong enough in Spirit & filled with His Love, you can be trusted with His liberty as a useful tool to help others. But if you are weak in the flesh, full of selfish lust & play with it foolishly like a dangerous toy, it will only harm you & others & hinder the Work of God!" (ML #302C:4-8.)

       25. QUESTION: If Grandpa knew that the Family would probably have as much trouble handling such freedoms as the Early Church did, then why did he ever promote it?
       26. ANSWER: The Lord used it to test us & to teach us many lessons that we would have never learned otherwise.
       27. The Lord used the "All Things" & "One Wife" freedoms that He gave us to try to teach us the meaning of real love, sacrificial love, what it means to truly "lay down our lives for the brethren." He also used these freedoms to show us the importance of being married to Him & His Family first, more so than to our "private" little family units within the Family. The Lord even used our many mistakes & stumblings, failings & fallings to teach us many priceless lessons.
       28. In a recent Letter of Counsel, Mama described this "learning process" that we went through like this:
       29. "If you, as a parent, give your young toddler a book so he can look at the pictures & learn & profit from it, whether or not you let him keep that book will depend on how he treats it, how he handles it. If he handles it roughly & carelessly, wrinkling or tearing pages & throwing it around, you'll have to take it away from him until he learns to respect & handle it properly.
       30. "Even before giving the book to the child you would have probably explained to him what to do & not do with it. But often a child will not heed such instructions & limitations until he has been deprived of his book a number of times. Then he begins to realise that he can no longer have the book unless he uses it in accordance with the rules.
       31. "When first giving the child the book, the parent usually realises that the child will have some problems with it initially, but the parent also knows that the child will learn & mature & eventually become capable of handling a book wisely & responsibly. But if the parent had never even tried giving the book to the child, the child would have never had the opportunity to learn how to handle it. The rules are there all the time, but it's not usually until some discipline has been enforced & the child has lost his privileges of having the book, that the rules finally sink in.
       32. "This is how it's been with the Family in many ways: We were given these freedoms, as well as the rules on how to properly use them, but like that child who gets his hands on a book for the first time, most of the Family just didn't know how to handle it. So the Lord has now jerked us up & has given us safeguards & restrictions to make sure that we don't mishandle or abuse it any more. He mercifully still lets us have the book, but He's given us guidelines to help us keep the loving laws of His Law of Love.--Rules that He's told us about from the beginning."

       33. QUESTION: But why do we have to have guidelines & restrictions? I thought that Grandpa said that whatever we do in love is OK with the Lord?
       34. ANSWER: That's right, whatever is done in real love is all right with the Lord.
       35. But to really understand this principle, we need to first of all define "love." Grandpa made it clear what kind of love he was talking about in the "Law of Love" Letter:
       36. "'Love doeth thy neighbour no harm,' for 'thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.' This is God's Law of Love! 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' 'Against such Love there is no Law.' This is the Lord's Law of Love. Obey it & you can have total love, life & liberty in the Lord. These are God's conditions. (Rom.13:10; Mat.7:12; Mat.22:39; Gal.5:22,23.)
       37. "Are you doing it because you want to unselfishly & sacrificially help someone else who really needs it, & by which you can show them God's Love? Or are you doing it selfishly & unlawfully, not in love for others & God, but merely to consume it upon your own lusts?
       38. "This is the difference between lust & love: Lust is merely to gratify your own greedy selfish appetite, like eating a meal. You may need it, but if you're stealing it from someone else & taking the food out of their mouth to stuff your own, this is selfish lust, not love! But if you are taking the food out of your own mouth & giving your own meal to satisfy & feed another who is hungry & starving for love & needs it desperately & might not survive without it, then this is real love.
       39. "'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' 'Therefore we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.'" (Jn.15:13; 1Jn.3:16)
       40. It's God's Love that grants us the liberty to share with others.--A genuinely sacrificial love, one that truly prefers the happiness of others to our own. The Lord's idea in teaching & giving us His Law of Love was to enable us to help & meet the needs of others, often at great personal cost & sacrifice!
       41. If you've ever read any of the FF Letters, you know that when Grandpa wrote this series to the Family about sharing sexually with others, it was definitely considered a very sacrificial "cross," "laying down our lives for the brethren," & wasn't looked on as any kind of a self-gratifying plaything at all. In Letters like "The Men Who Play God" (ML #564), Grandpa shared the tremendous battles that he & most of our men went through when sharing their wives & sweethearts with others in order to try to prove to them the Lord's Love.--Not to mention the sacrifices that our wonderfully brave & sacrificial women went through to unselfishly give their "all" in order to try to win many of the System's "beasts" to the Lord!
       42. These freedoms were extended to those who would use them as a tool to help, heal & fill a desperate need. In FFing it was to fulfil a physical need in order to reach & win their hearts, enabling us to then fill their spiritual needs as well.

       43. QUESTION: OK, I can see how the idea of FFing outsiders could be quite sacrificial, but it doesn't seem to me that sexual sharing between Family Members within our Homes would necessarily be so sacrificial!
       44. ANSWER: Our motives for sharing within our Homes weren't always very sacrificial.--Which is one reason why it got out of hand & had to be curbed!
       45. But the Lord's original intention in giving us the freedom to share within the Family was to enable us to meet the urgent needs of those who had to be apart from their mates for the Work's sake.--Or to meet the sexual needs of those who had no mate, & had gone without sex for years. The point is, it was a liberty with a definite purpose. It was intended for those who wanted to lovingly & sacrificially help out someone else who desperately needed it.

       46. QUESTION: There were adults in the Family who went without sex for years?
       47. ANSWER: Yes, a lot of us went literally for years without any sex whatsoever.
       48. It would probably help you to view some of our past liberties in the right context if we talk a little bit about the way things were in the Family throughout the first years of our existence as a group. For our first eight or nine years, there was very little if any sexual sharing within our Homes, except for those who were married; who naturally slept with their own husbands & wives. So the only hope that most of our early disciples had of ever having sex with anyone was to get married.--And a lot of folks simply couldn't find a suitable mate, so remained single & virtually without any sex from the time that they joined until the Lord provided them with a husband or wife--which sometimes took 5, 6 or more years! One reason that it was difficult for many of our men to find mates was because during our first "rough & rugged" years, we had only half as many women join us as men! So it was pretty "slim pickin's" for the guys!
       49. Nevertheless, these early Family Members faithfully "shtuck" for the Lord & for the sake of lost souls, the reasons they'd joined the Family in the first place. So for years & years a lot of us simply put our sexual needs "on the altar," & did our best to "deny ourselves & take up the cross daily" & go about our Father's business of preaching the Gospel to every creature. In fact, for years most of our Homes worldwide had their fair share of folks who were virtually "eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake." (Mat.19:12.)--People who had joined the Family in their late teens & had passed into their mid-twenties--or even late-twenties--without having any sexual relationships whatsoever!

       50. QUESTION: You mean there was no sharing sexually between anyone except husbands & wives for all those years?
       51. ANSWER: That's right, there was no sharing, except in just a few rare cases by just a few leaders.
       52. Actually, it was way back in 1970 when Grandpa first received that revelation that "All things are lawful" unto us included sexual sharing, if it's done in real love. It was at the old TSC Ranch that the married couple that we mentioned earlier had to temporarily separate because the husband was needed on a mission on the road while his wife needed to stay back at the Ranch. But the Lord made it clear to Grandpa that this brother's sexual needs could be met by one of the sisters who was going with him on the road team. So it was in our very early years, 1970, that the Lord showed Grandpa that such liberties were perfectly permissible under God's Law of Love.
       53. However, because Grandpa knew the potential dangers & bad fruit that could result if this new liberty were abused or used unwisely or unlovingly, no Letters were published about it at that time. In fact, the knowledge that such freedoms even existed was limited to only the few leaders with whom Grandpa shared this "All Things" revelation at TSC in 1970. In the years that followed, these same leaders carried this knowledge with them, & some practiced such liberties among themselves. But the average Family Member knew very little or nothing about it, & as already mentioned, went without any sexual fellowship whatsoever unless they were married.

       54. QUESTION: Then when did the Family as a whole learn about "All Things" & sexual freedom under God's Law of Love?
       55. ANSWER: It was in 1974, four years after Grandpa had first received the revelation about "All Things" that the Lord led him to share the news of this liberty in the Lord with the Family.
       56. By 1974 the Lord had begun to show Grandpa & Mama that meeting others' needs for love, romance & sex could even be used as a tool to reach & witness to & win outsiders to the Lord. It was at that time that they were frequenting ballrooms in England for exercise & recreation, & consequently met a lot of lonely & spiritually hungry people whom they were able to minister to & eventually FF. The general principles & ideas behind this radical new outreach approach were then published for the first time in Letters such as "The Look of Love," "Beauty & the Beasts" & of course, "The Flirty Little Fishy." (ML#s 304, 309, 293.)
       57. Knowing also that there was an ever-increasing need in most of our Homes, & trusting that the Family had matured & grown considerably more responsible since he had first received the "All Things" revelations back in 1970, Grandpa decided to publish the "All Things Tree" & the "Law of Love" Letters at this time as well (early 1974). By doing so, the Lord was mercifully giving the Family His Word to show us that the rather pressing--& in some cases, dire--sexual needs of the many faithful Family Members who had gone without sex for years & years now, could indeed be met.

       58. QUESTION: Is that when most people started sexually sharing with others?
       59. ANSWER: No.
       60. Even though Grandpa had published these Letters & even though there were a few "old-timers" here & there who had been leaders at TSC in 1970, with whom Grandpa had shared the "All Things" revelation & who had actually experienced such liberties & knew that they were of the Lord, the Family as a whole remained very bound sexually. In most areas, it was a very rare & practically unheard-of event for someone to share with or sexually help out someone else, other than the person to whom they were married.

       61. QUESTION: If some of these "old time" leaders knew that such liberties were okay with the Lord, then why didn't they practice them?
       62. ANSWER: There were cases where some of these "old-time" leaders were exercising such liberties. But these leaders usually kept these "All Things" affairs very "hush hush," thus the average Family Member knew nothing about them.

       63. QUESTION: Why did those leaders keep it such a big secret?
       64. ANSWER: For several reasons:
       65. For one, they knew that the "All Things" doctrine of sexual sharing was pretty "strong meat," & were concerned that should their activities along these lines become known, it might stumble or hurt the faith of weaker brethren. Some were also worried about what might happen if everybody learned about & then wanted to partake of such freedoms.--After all, it could easily get out of hand! And some, no doubt, were probably afraid that their own liberties might be limited or encroached upon were they to become common knowledge.
       66. Others kept it "hushed up" because they didn't have full faith for their actions, because they knew that they were misusing this "tool" as a personal "plaything." When Grandpa learned about the misguided activities of some of these errant leaders he tried to correct them in a written rebuke personally to them, which was later published in a "Leaders Only" MO Letter in August, 1974:
       67. "What I have said about 'One Wife', & the 'Law of Love' has been carried to the extreme & with the wrong selfish motives by some, when these were intended to emphasise the need of total self-sacrifice for the sake of God's Work & others in the ultimate of sacrificial love! Instead, some of you have apparently, according to your own selfish desires, completely misinterpreted these Letters & are now yielding your members to nothing but carnal lust instead of sacrificing yourselves on the altar of God's service in service to those who really need & deserve help!
       68. "I wondered if God could trust us with such freedom without some of you abusing it! But as the Apostle Paul found, apparently this is impossible for some, & they use this newfound liberty as a license to their own selfish ends instead of the sacrificial service it was intended to be!" (ML #314B:6,10.) (Gal.5:13; 1Cor.5:1; 1Pet.2:16)

       69. QUESTION: When did the whole Family finally get to partake of these "newfound liberties?"
       70. ANSWER: After the famous "RNR" (Reorganisation, Nationalisation Revolution) of 1978.
       71. Prior to the RNR, Grandpa & Mama had pioneered the FFing ministry on a large scale in Tenerife. They had subsequently written & published an entire series of new Letters on this topic by 1977, sharing many details, lessons, tips & "how-to's" that they had learned. Grandpa made it very clear to us that the Lord wanted all of our Homes to pioneer & learn to use this radical new outreach method to win souls & become "fishers of men"!
       72. However, the Family's leadership in some areas was very reluctant & overly cautious about launching out into this new & challenging FFing ministry. Possessive husbands were jealous & fearful of losing their wives. Others just cringed at the thought of taking worldly "beasts" to bed in order to try to show them the Love of God. As Grandpa later said, "FFing was the acid test; it really separated the men from the boys, & the women from the girls!" Basically, the concept of FFing really broke a lot of old bottles! And even in the areas where the Family obeyed & responded to the challenge to give FFing a try, the single brothers & sisters in the Homes were still woefully neglected sexually!
       73. It was this very reluctance of a number of top Family leaders to obey the FF Letters that caused Grandpa & Mama to take a closer look at our Family leadership's spiritual condition.--At which time they discovered that most of the leaders were not only failing to obey the Letters on FFing, but were also failing to be the good Shepherds that they had been entrusted to be! Grandpa was shocked at the blatant & appalling neglect & lack of love & concern for the lowly litnessers & "little people" that he uncovered in most of our Homes! In fact, it was this discovery that caused him to explode with his declaration of the "RNR" of '78!
       74. At that time Grandpa fired 300 of the "Chain" leaders who had been unduly influenced by the very poor examples of some of the former top Family leaders, like Deborah, Jethro & Rachel.--All of whom were no longer "little in their own sight," but like Saul of old, had begun to trust in the arm of flesh, were deluded by the "deceitfulness of riches," & were following the Lord & His Prophet "afar off!" (1Sam.15:17; Mat.13:22; 26:5.) Many of these leaders had developed some very hireling-like habits that Grandpa & Mama were appalled to learn about! Not only were the "little people's" sexual needs being ignored, but their basic needs for decent clothing, food, bedding, rest, etc., were also sadly neglected in many cases!
       75. It was when Grandpa & Mama made it a requirement that any complaints from the Homes go directly to them, rather than the formerly trusted next level of leadership, that these honest heartcries revealed to them the true conditions that existed in many of our Homes. As a result, the RNR was declared, the existing hirelings & Chain Shepherds were fired, & the previously oppressed poor were released of the heavy burdens that had been placed upon them! All of our Homes worldwide held elections & voted in new Shepherds, who would hopefully truly love & care for the sheep & their needs, seeking the welfare of the flock over their own! It was a time of joyous liberation for all of the "little people" throughout the Family!
       76. And among the liberties granted to our Homes worldwide was the freedom to freely & lovingly put into practice the Lord's Law of Love, & to thus ensure that all of our adult's sexual needs were finally met. Now mind you, most of the people we're talking about here were fairly mature, time-tested, tried-&-proven brethren who had forsaken all to serve the Lord & had sacrificially gone without any sex for years.--Throughout their late teens (if they joined at that age) & throughout their twenties!

       77. QUESTION: I can see how the Family at that time certainly needed & deserved such freedoms, after suffering so much deprivation under the Chain. But what I don't quite understand is why we don't still have all of those same freedoms today!
       78. ANSWER: As mentioned earlier, the Lord greatly restricted many of our sexual liberties because of our misuse of them, our inability to handle them properly & use them sacrificially, as He intended.
       79. Do you remember the warning we quoted earlier from the "Law of Love" Letter, where Grandpa said that if these freedoms were misused, they could in some ways be like a new & dangerous toy, something that could hurt & harm others & hinder the Lord's Work if not used wisely, sacrificially & above all, lovingly? Well, frankly speaking, we found out through a lot of hurt, harm & hindering that this indeed was the case! Most of us simply proved ourselves incapable of wisely & lovingly handling total sexual freedom, & as a result, in many cases it bore bad fruit. This is the main reason why a lot of liberties along these lines were either withdrawn or curtailed.

       80. QUESTION: But why did it result in "bad fruit"? If Grandpa & the Letters were right in saying that it was OK, then why did so many problems result that some of those liberties had to be taken away?
       81. ANSWER: The problem wasn't with the Word we'd been given, it was with us & our misinterpretation & misapplication of that Word.
       82. For one thing, right there in the "Law of Love" Letter, written in 1974, Grandpa had clearly said,
       83. "Any variation from the norm of personal relationships, or any substantial change in marital relationships, any projected sexual associations should have the willing consent of all parties concerned or affected, including the approval of leadership & the permission of the Body. If this is lacking in any quarter & anyone is going to be harmed or unduly offended, then your action is not in love nor according to God's Law of Love!" (ML #302C:14.)
       84. However, because most of the Family had been so deprived sexually during the next four years, under the harsh & restrictive "Chain" leadership, at the time of the RNR in 1978, Grandpa lifted this rule of mandatorily having to get leadership's consent before pursuing any new romantic or sexual relationships. In the "Happy Rebirthday" Letter of the RNR Rules, written in February, '78, Grandpa declared,
       85. "No permission needed for sex!--If legal & with mutual consent. No Servants (leaders) need to be consulted. Fire away! Praise God!"--ML #663:XI-1.
       86. This, of course, was a great liberation for all of us who had been under the prohibitive & tight restrictions of the "Chain" leaders. But unfortunately, most of us took this newly acquired liberty to the extreme, & completely neglected the loving principle of securing the consent of all parties involved before sharing with someone other than the person we were mated to.--Which is why Grandpa later wrote & more fully explained what he meant by "mutual consent."
       87. "After the RNR I said, 'From now on there's no limit to sex in the Family, you don't have to get anybody's permission as long as it's with mutual consent of the parties involved.'--That means with all the parties involved & all of those affected, which could be the whole Home!
       88. "Sex is only in real love providing it doesn't hurt anybody--or at least it doesn't hurt them without their consent. Sometimes it can hurt even if you're FFing, but it's with consent.
       89. "If it's in real love it's not going to hurt anybody, or certainly it's not going to be done without their consent. And that does not necessarily mean just the two parties involved, there might be others involved, you might be involving the whole Home in some way, or the other party's husband or wife or mate or something." (ML #1829:80,85,86.)
       90. There may sometimes be exceptions to this "consent-of-all-parties-involved" rule. If you feel that you have a good reason to be such an exception, then you should counsel with your Shepherds about it.
       91. Another point to remember when looking back on our past liberties is the fact that most of our Homes were virtually leaderless for months following the RNR, & as usually happens, while the "cats" were away, the "mice" indeed did play! Without Shepherds to oversee our actions or to counsel with, a lot of us fell into the same state that errant Israel fell into when "There was no king (leadership) in Israel, so every man did that which was right in his own eyes."--Judg.21:25. In the euphoria of being liberated from the "hard bondage" of the "Chain" leadership & their harsh policies, a lot of us simply got carried away with our new-found freedoms & liberties, & as we often tend to do, we immoderately pushed our blessings to the limit--& beyond!
       92. The freedom to sexually share with others almost immediately resulted in many new hot & heavy personal relationships! Prior to the RNR most of us had never shared with anyone except our mates & perhaps some fish. And as mentioned earlier, those who weren't mated, for the most part, had virtually been "eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven's sake." (Mat.19:12) So when we suddenly found ourselves liberated from our previous Chain leadership & the restraints that they imposed upon us, a lot of us cast aside not only the Chain's restrictions, but the Lord's Law of Love rules as well! And at the slightest whim or desire, we promptly began hopping into bed with whoever we wanted to.--Which resulted in emotional repercussions that were rather catastrophic in many cases! A lot of us were almost immediately caught up in full-blown love affairs!
       93. During this time, not only were the previously neglected singles finally getting their pressing sexual needs met, but a lot of husbands & wives were suddenly finding themselves getting very emotionally involved with these single sisters & brothers.--As well as with many of the other married brothers & sisters with whom they were now sharing!

       94. QUESTION: Are you implying or saying that there's something wrong with love & sharing, & that it's wrong to "fall in love" with someone & want to get together with them?
       95. ANSWER: No, not at all! There's absolutely nothing wrong with genuine love & sacrificial sharing!
       96. The problem was with us & our weaknesses & immaturity which manifested itself in our inability to handle these freedoms! A good many of us found our minds & hearts greatly distracted from the Lord & the jobs He had given us to do!--We became so preoccupied with our romantic antics & sexual adventures & the resultant emotional roller coaster rides!
       97. In spite of all of the things that we knew we should & shouldn't do, for many of us, our feelings & emotions were too powerful for us to keep under control! When all of the rules & restrictions that had kept us in check were no longer enforced, those very strong feelings virtually overwhelmed a lot of us, & consequently led us right off the track!
       98. Instead of using these new liberties as a "useful tool to help others," as the Lord & Grandpa had originally intended, sad to say, many of us were so carried away with our emotions, we were no longer truly "seeking first the Kingdom of God & His righteousness" in our relationships with others. Instead, we were seeking first the pleasures of the flesh & the relationships of the moment!
       99. An awful lot of us seemed to forget all about the sacrificial angle of "laying down our lives for the brethren," & instead we let our emotions & passions virtually run wild, sharing with & falling in & out of love with many a bed-mate! We woefully failed to heed the Word's warning to "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life!"--Pro.4:23. All along, Grandpa had always taught us to "seek first the Kingdom of God" in our personal relationships, but most of us were so excited about & carried away with this "new & dangerous toy" that we'd suddenly gotten ahold of, we forgot all about the Lord's conditions that allowed us to partake of such freedoms in the first place! Grandpa explained the problem like this:
       100. "Some of these guys that think 'All Things' is for the purpose of having a spree, have a few things to learn! It is a crucifixion, not a spree!--And if you don't look on it as such & realise that that's what it means, a terrible humbling & a real crucifixion of the flesh, then you're going at it with the wrong spirit entirely!
       101. "When I got out the 'Law of Love' with that picture on the front, 'Are you willing to be nailed?', there were entirely too many gals who wanted to be nailed real quick!--And too many boys willing to nail them!--For the wrong reasons!--Not for the sake of real spiritual fellowship & unity & humility & love!" (ML #1436:147-148)

       102. QUESTION: You've repeatedly referred to the freedom to share sexually with others as a "tool" to be sacrificially used. Does this mean that it's wrong to share with someone if it's pleasurable or enjoyable, or if it's to meet my own sexual needs, & is not necessarily "sacrificial" on my part?
       103. ANSWER: No! The Lord is the One "Who giveth us richly all things to enjoy!"--1Tim.6:17.
       104. Although we have been emphasising the main reason & purpose for which the Lord gave us these liberties--to enable us to sacrificially & lovingly help & meet others' needs, the Lord can also use the grace & freedom we receive under His Law of Love to meet our own needs as well. For example, if two people have a mutual need, if they want to love each other & are hurting no one else in the process, the Law of Love can give them the liberty to do so. (Providing they are of legal age!)
       105. So the implementation of the Law of Love does not always necessarily have to be totally sacrificial. Two people may have a need, & it may not be a sacrifice on either party's part to meet the needs of the other. Or it could be a sacrifice for one of them, whereas for the other there may not be any sacrifice involved at all. But there's nothing wrong with this.--It's still a tool in the Lord's hands to help His children, to meet their needs, to draw them close to each other, etc.
       106. But in such cases, when properly applied, the Law of Love will still bear good fruit--whether it's sacrificial for both parties, one party or neither party. If it's bringing forth good fruit in fellowship, in closeness & communication, in meeting each other's needs, then the Lord is using it to help & satisfy His children & to keep them happy & content in His service. If it is used properly, in real love, then it will benefit the Lord's Work by thus benefitting His workers.
       107. Even when we are sacrificially giving to help someone else, because our motives are right & we're trying to give in order to be a blessing to others, then the Lord blesses us in return. As Grandpa has said so many times, "You never lose by giving!"

       108. QUESTION: You said earlier that abusing these sexual liberties resulted in "bad fruit."--What specifically do you mean by that?
       109. ANSWER: Just as seeking first the Kingdom of God & His Will results in God's favour & blessings & the strengthening of His Work & the edification of His children, when we neglect the Lord because we're seeking first our own way & desires, we lose many of God's blessings, & we & our work for Him are weakened, & a lot of problems result. (See Gal.6:7,8.)
       110. As a result of our excesses & immoderation, a lot of husbands & wives were deeply hurt & wound up feeling--or actually being--"jilted," neglected or rejected by their mates who were now all wrapped up in new relationships with somebody else. Many of us found ourselves having to grapple with & wage fierce spiritual warfare against the cruel & relentless "green-eyed monster" of jealousy for the first time.
       111. Of course, jealousy can occur even when people are sweet & unselfish & trying their best to be kind & loving & considerate of each other's feelings. It is one of the Devil's favourite tactics & devices that he uses to distract, divide & discourage us. But our unwise & often inconsiderate & excessive sexual adventures certainly caused a lot of jealousy battles that could have been avoided. So needless to say, we found out the hard way that sexual freedom wasn't all fun & games!
       112. Because so many of us opted to "play" with it as our new "toy" instead of using it as the "tool" that the Lord intended it to be, because we decided to take instead of to give, we "reaped what we'd sown" & paid the price in many strained marriages, broken hearts, agonising jealousy battles, etc!--Not to mention the untold spiritual blessings we missed because of our not seeking first the Lord & His Kingdom & staying as close to & in tune with Him as we should have!
       113. Of course, one of--if not the--saddest & worst negative consequences of our getting all wrapped up in personal relationships & "entangled in the affairs of this life" was that our preoccupation with our own personal affairs caused us to neglect the Lord's Work.--Which not only adversely affected us, but many others as well. We know that as Jesus' disciples, we are called to "deny ourselves & take up the cross daily, laying down our lives for the brethren," as we do our best to reach & win eternal souls, & feed the Lord's sheep.
       114. So it probably won't be until the Marriage Supper that we'll fully realise just how serious it is to neglect the Lord & His Work for the pleasures & pursuits of the flesh. When He shows us what could have been done when we were so busy pursuing our romantic & sexual escapades, we'll surely do some lamenting & repenting! Thank the Lord, He says that He will mercifully "wipe away all tears from our eyes," as many of us will undoubtedly shed quite a few when we see all the folks who could have been reached with the Gospel, the souls that could have been won, & the brothers & sisters who could have been taught & spiritually fed & strengthened had we truly "sought first the Kingdom of God & His righteousness!" No wonder Mama has exhorted us,
       115. "Let's keep our priorities straight & our minds & bodies in subjection, so we can get as much done as possible for the Lord & His Work!--Loving Him first wholeheartedly!" (Mama Letter #60:112.)
       116. From those days when we so abused & went overboard in our sexual liberties, we learned the hard way that what God says in His Word is so true, that He is a jealous God, & He will tolerate no other gods before Him! And when we put our emotional, sexual & personal needs & wants & relationships before Him, He is definitely displeased, & simply will not put up with it! He warns us, "I have somewhat against thee because thou hast left thy First Love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, & repent, & do the first works, or else I will come unto thee quickly & will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent!"--Rev.2:4,5.

       117. QUESTION: All right, I agree, you all really blew it! But why should we Teens today have to suffer because of your mistakes? How do you know that we wouldn't do better than you did in handling such liberties?
       118. ANSWER: Because of the many lessons that we have all learned since the initial post-RNR period, we would hope that you would do better than we did! But remember, "There hath no temptation taken you (or us), but such as is common to man."--1Cor.10:13.
       119. Very few, if any, of us intentionally misused or abused these liberties. It's just that we discovered that we weren't strong enough in spirit or mature enough to use them in the absolutely unselfish & sacrificial manner which the Lord intended & expected us to.--And it's very likely that you too would also make the same sad discovery under similar circumstances!
       120. He had lovingly given us those freedoms as a gift of His Grace, to facilitate our loving of others, & also so we, as a result, could be blessed by it ourselves. But like any wise & concerned parent, when He saw that a lot of His children--because of their failure to follow & heed His instructions--were either hurting themselves or others with this "tool" that He had placed in their hands, He knew it was in their own best interest to step in & restrict & more closely watch over their usage of it.

       121. QUESTION: But is that really fair, that we have to go without any of those liberties because of your past mistakes?
       122. ANSWER: You who are of legal age don't have to go without any of those liberties!
       123. The fact of the matter is that the Lord hasn't really taken away these freedoms from us! He's just curbed our practice & application of these liberties & seen to it that we're all more accountable now for our actions along these lines. In other words, He, our Heavenly Parent, still lets us use this "tool" that He Himself designed for us. It's just that He's very concerned that we use it properly & don't hurt ourselves or others by repeating our previous mistakes. So He now watches over our usage of it a little more closely.--And expects us to stick to & follow the "Manufacturer's Instructions" so that no one gets hurt.
       124. But we still enjoy a great deal more freedom & liberty than any other group of Christians you're likely to ever meet! We still firmly believe in God's Law of Love, & we practice it too! The difference between our application of it today & our application of it in the past is that we try to handle it more responsibly, more maturely, & with more consideration for the feelings & hearts of others. Basically, what we're trying to do is just obey what the Lord & Grandpa originally told us about the Law of Love, to apply & practice it in a way that is loving, unselfish, & sacrificial.

       125. QUESTION: But if you all had only been able to handle it better, then we today would still be able to enjoy total sexual freedom, wouldn't we?--Without all of the restraints & restrictions & necessity to counsel & get approval, etc.
       126. ANSWER: What makes you think that you would be able to handle such freedoms any better than we did?
       127. Imagine if you had been an adult in the Family for years & years, & had had virtually no sexual liberties whatsoever during that time.--No sharing or dating or anything along those lines, unless you happened to be married (in which case you would have had sex with your mate only).
       128. What if you had been 25 or 28 years old at that time, & you had very much wanted to "get it together" with someone, but your strict & overbearing "Chain" Shepherds would have never allowed it. Then suddenly your Shepherds are fired & you find that you can go ahead & freely share with whoever you want to without any Shepherds checking up on you.--The only stipulation being that you're supposed to do whatever you're doing in Love. Don't you think that you might possibly have made some mistakes?--Or gone to some excesses?--Or possibly hurt others? (--Even though you had no intention of doing so.)
       129. It might also help you to understand things a little better & to be a little more charitable in your views & attitudes if you bear in mind the fact that the period immediately after the RNR was the first opportunity for many of us to get sexually or romantically involved with someone.--Or someones! So the subsequent emotional upheavals & complications that followed were something totally new to us, which is why in so many cases we just didn't know how to handle or keep these very strong emotions & attractions & newfound relationships under control!
       130. Although we made a lot of mistakes, thank God we learned an awful lot through it all. As is often the case, "we learn obedience through the things we suffer."--Heb.5:8.
       131. We are definitely wiser today than we were yesterday.--And a good part of that wisdom is to simply be able to recognise our weaknesses, to know what we can & can't safely handle. And we know now that a lot of us just can't handle too many freedoms. We've realised our weaknesses & carnal human limitations, & know now how very easy it is for us--or for you or anyone else, for that matter--to get sidetracked & distracted from the Lord & our service for Him by sexual/romantic affairs.
       132. Another important point to bear in mind is that we're not only wiser today, but we're also a lot closer to the End today, & feel more compelled than ever before to "redeem the time, because the days are evil!"--In fact, more evil now than they've ever been before! (Eph.5:16) The harvest of souls that needs to be reached is also much more "white already to harvest" than it's ever been before, & we feel constrained by the Lord to avoid any distractions that would hinder us from truly giving our all to Jesus & fulfilling the role He wants us to play in these Last Days.
       133. As the Apostle Paul so aptly said, "This I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives (or love relationships) be as though they had none! For I would have you without carefulness (being loaded with cares). He that is unmarried (single in heart & spirit) careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married (in a relationship) careth for the things that are of the World, how he may please his wife."--1Cor.7:29-33.
       134. So past mistakes & excesses aside, with all of the vital training that you Teens are now going through to prepare you for the Future, & with all that you're now doing to witness, teach & train others--or fulfilling your ministry to make the Family's outreach possible in your area, it's really important that you faithfully "seek first the Kingdom of God," giving the Lord & His Work first place in your life & heart. But if you truly "delight yourself in the Lord," He's promised to give you the desires of your heart & supply all of your needs.--Psa.37:4; Phil.4:19. And if you're of legal age & it's God's Will & time, the Lord is well able to send the "right" person along, a dear one with whom you can "join together to become one flesh" (Mat.19:4-6) in a "Make It Work" marriage relationship. (Another "Questions & Answers" Letter on Marriage & Relationships is coming later, God willing!)

       135. QUESTION: Seeing that the Family has had many years to learn all of those lessons, maybe we've learned enough now to be able to try having total sexual freedom again?
       136. ANSWER: The fact of the matter is, if all of the restrictions along these lines were suddenly lifted within all of our Homes right now, it's very likely that we'd soon have all kinds of problems again as a result!
       137. True, we've learned to be more responsible regarding our actions & sample, & we've learned to be more considerate of others' feelings. But to this day, despite all the lessons we've learned & the Letters that have been written, there is still case after case of people--good, dedicated Family folks who love the Lord & are entrusted with lots of responsibility--who are still virtually swept away with the tide of passion & emotion that hits them as soon as they get involved in a love relationship! These affairs of the heart are very powerful, & unless they are kept completely subordinate to the Lord & His Will, they can be used by the Enemy to really side-track & trip up even some of our strongest people.
       138. If many of our tried-&-proven, time-tested veterans & leaders still have such difficulties in handling the emotional & romantic affairs that they get involved in, how much more difficult can it be for you Teens, whose budding emotions & exploding hormones are just now coming to the fore?! If even some of our strongest people can get sidetracked by these things, certainly you Teens, whose physical urges are so strong, & who have had very little experience in the affairs of the heart, can easily get even more sidetracked & tripped-up!--Which, sad to say, has already happened in several cases where some of our young "Make It Work" couples have ceased working!--All because of their misunderstanding, misuse & misapplication of the "Law of Love" principles explained in this lesson!
       139. Romantic feelings combined with strong physical urges can seem overwhelmingly appealing & desireable. But when they're allowed to get out of hand, they become a definite distraction & hindrance to your service for the Lord.--Which is why we have tried to set up safeguards & guidelines to help keep not just you, but all of us, on the "straight & narrow" path of His Will, seeking first the Eternal Kingdom of God.
       140. So the rules & restrictions & guidelines that we have today, such as the policy that people need to counsel with their Shepherds before getting involved with each other, are not some kind of a punishment or a judgement! They are safeguards for our--and your--own good! You should be thankful for them! Thank the Lord that you don't have to go through the "trial & error" lessons that we had to go through in order to reach where we're at today!
       141. "A wise man learns from experience. But ... a wiser man learns from the experience of others!" So may God help you to learn the "wiser" way by heeding the good guidelines God has given you today, & cheerfully & lovingly follow His Law of Love!--Amen! Praise the Lord! We love you!

       142. "The rule of thumb is very simple--the solution is plain, but not always easy! God's Word makes it very clear, & it's summed up in the little slogan on priorities, Jesus & others, then you!--J-O-Y, for true joy & happiness in the Lord! If you'll follow this simple rule, it'll keep you out of a lot of trouble!
       143. "Jesus comes first! The first commandment is to love God! 'For I the Lord, thy God, am a jealous God, & I will have no other gods before Me.' (Deut.5:7,9) You must put God first, not the Work, nor your husband, nor your wife, nor even others, only Jesus! He doesn't fit second place, & He won't take it! He won't stand for it & you'll have trouble!--ML #49:18.
       144. "You mean God is jealous sometimes?--Yes! He's jealous of your love! He doesn't want you to love anybody or any thing more than you love Him! He certainly doesn't want you to worship anybody or anything more than you worship Him, right? So the Lord really expects you to love Him above all things.--ML#1888:57.
       145. "In fact, the Lord will surely judge us if we don't put Him & His Work first. And that means that you don't put your husband or wife before the Lord's Work either.--How much worse if you would put extramarital relationships before the Lord, where you're not even obligated to be with the other party? 'If any man would come after Me, he must deny himself & take up his cross & follow Me!'--Mat.16:24. (From an unpublished draft.)
       146. "To put your husband or wife (or lover) before the Lord's Work is intolerable in any man's army! This is deplorable & intolerable. Your mate belongs first of all to God & His Work, & last of all to you!--ML #49:20.
       147. "God is trying to teach us all the lesson of putting Him & His Family first. If you cannot be trusted with a private relationship & to keep it in its proper perspective--last--then God will break it up in order to ensure He & His Work get first place! There can be no superior or selfish private ties which supersede our ties to God above all! And if you don't give God all, He will just take them away & make you forsake all! This is one of the most outstanding lessons God has taught us from the top right on down. God is trying to show us that these personal private relationships are unedifying & unfruitful unless they are kept totally subordinate!"--ML #249:13.

       148. (Although some of these Questions & Answers apply mainly to legal-aged older Teens or EAs, the principles we've outlined of "seeking first the Kingdom of God" over our own personal relationships & desires are relevant & applicable for Teens of all ages.
       150. (Of course, whatever your age, romantic & sexual affairs can become a great distraction & hindrance to your spiritual life & walk with the Lord, particularly if you allow such relationships to get out of hand. So even if the System didn't disapprove of teen marriages & teen pregnancies, we would still not encourage you younger Teens to get enmeshed in any kind of hot & heavy romantic relationships with each other. There are too many vitally important lessons that you need to learn in order to become the strong young men & women of God that He wants you to be!) (--AMEN!--GBAKY!--IJN, D.)

       (To be continued, D.V.!)

Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family